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Joseph Petitti —

Finally getting some use out of my trackball with Spin Rhythm XD

The Elecom Huge trackball

I've had a trackball mouse for a couple of years now, and while I like it for most casual browsing it is definitely not good for games. You just can't match the speed and precision of a real mouse when it comes to first person games that require aiming. For pointer-based games like Factorio or Cities: Skylines a trackball is about the same as a regular mouse. But I may have just found the one game that's actually better with a trackball: Spin Rhythm XD.

Spin Rhythm is another rhythm game that I saw at PAX East 2020 and ended up buying later. It's a fairly standard rhythm game with a special control scheme as the unique spin. It's designed to be played on a MIDI DJ turntable, which you spin, flick, and tap to match the beat. Fortunately it can also be played with a mouse and keyboard or controller if you happen to not be a DJ.

The gameplay is fine with a mouse, but really shines with a trackball. Physically flicking the ball back and forth to line up notes and spins is a rhythm experience I haven't seen outside of arcades. It's super intuitive and tons of fun.

The game is in early access, but already has plenty of content. There are 30 tracks, each with hand-crafted levels in five difficulties, as well as a level editor, online leaderboards, and a multiplayer radio mode. The backgrounds and visuals are colorful and exciting without being distracting.

It took a while to get used to the system of lining up colored notes by spinning the wheel rather than just hitting a different button for each color, but once I got the hang of it I advanced through normal and hard difficulties quite fast. The scoring system is rather generous (as western rhythm games usually are), with a relatively generous time range to get a "Perfect" for a note and only one lower rank (either "Early" or "Late").

Screenshot of Spin Rhythm XD

Even if you don't have a trackball Spin Rhythm is worth checking out. It's one of the best PC-exclusive rhythm games I've played (although it's supposedly coming to Switch sometime this year), and the gameplay flow hooked me right away, and Also, it's only officially on Windows and MacOS, but runs perfectly on GNU/Linux using Steam's Proton compatibility layer, which is always nice.